Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Adventures of the Penguin King

This mainstream theatrical release is inferior to its shorter educational-film cousin.

Dec 4, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1390708-Adventures_Penguin_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Hollywood is used to the phenomenon in which two identical-sounding films hit theatres within months of each other—be they killer-asteroid blockbusters or literary biopics—often with each spoiling the other's chances with ticket-buyers. Such would seem to be the case with the nature doc Adventures of the Penguin King, which like the recent IMAX featurette Penguins observes the breeding habits of King Penguins on the Antarctic island of South Georgia. The earlier film was narrated by Sir David Attenborough and this one by Tim Allen, but the stories are as uncannily alike as those of Capote and Infamous.

But a hypothetical penguin-freak who sees both films will find even more surprising similarities: Didn't I see the exact same jokes about farting elephant seals in that other film? Is that the very same petrel whose menacing beak threatened to crack penguin eggs last time?

Yes and yes. Watching Adventures of the Penguin King is a bit like imagining what would happen if the makers of Olympus Has Fallen had looked at its box-office figures and thought, "What if we take our footage, make the film a bit worse and twice as long, and put it in more theatres as White House in Danger! before that Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx movie comes out?"

Here, the producers trade the first film's unsatisfying gimmick (its cinematography wasn't well suited to IMAX-size projection) for another: 3D. For Adventures, the Penguins filmmakers take the same general approach as they did the first time: telling their elementary-school audience we're watching a single penguin and his mate (buried in the credits is the disclaimer "featuring several King Penguins") in order to anthropomorphize the mating cycle and gin up suspense when orcas and other predators approach. But where Attenborough's script lent an air of dignity to the shorter film, Allen's reading of Philip LaZebnik's cutesy narration has a canned feel, and is unlikely to connect with viewers too young to appreciate clichéd humor about the joys of bachelorhood versus the duties of parenting.

Geffen and editor Rob Hall don't help, failing to convey any sense of passing time between scenes that span many months. On the bright side, Simon Niblett's cinematography is more appealing on small screens: On DVD with the sound turned off, the film would make fine eye candy for kids listening to their favorite music for the zillionth time.

The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Adventures of the Penguin King

This mainstream theatrical release is inferior to its shorter educational-film cousin.

Dec 4, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1390708-Adventures_Penguin_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Hollywood is used to the phenomenon in which two identical-sounding films hit theatres within months of each other—be they killer-asteroid blockbusters or literary biopics—often with each spoiling the other's chances with ticket-buyers. Such would seem to be the case with the nature doc Adventures of the Penguin King, which like the recent IMAX featurette Penguins observes the breeding habits of King Penguins on the Antarctic island of South Georgia. The earlier film was narrated by Sir David Attenborough and this one by Tim Allen, but the stories are as uncannily alike as those of Capote and Infamous.

But a hypothetical penguin-freak who sees both films will find even more surprising similarities: Didn't I see the exact same jokes about farting elephant seals in that other film? Is that the very same petrel whose menacing beak threatened to crack penguin eggs last time?

Yes and yes. Watching Adventures of the Penguin King is a bit like imagining what would happen if the makers of Olympus Has Fallen had looked at its box-office figures and thought, "What if we take our footage, make the film a bit worse and twice as long, and put it in more theatres as White House in Danger! before that Channing Tatum/Jamie Foxx movie comes out?"

Here, the producers trade the first film's unsatisfying gimmick (its cinematography wasn't well suited to IMAX-size projection) for another: 3D. For Adventures, the Penguins filmmakers take the same general approach as they did the first time: telling their elementary-school audience we're watching a single penguin and his mate (buried in the credits is the disclaimer "featuring several King Penguins") in order to anthropomorphize the mating cycle and gin up suspense when orcas and other predators approach. But where Attenborough's script lent an air of dignity to the shorter film, Allen's reading of Philip LaZebnik's cutesy narration has a canned feel, and is unlikely to connect with viewers too young to appreciate clichéd humor about the joys of bachelorhood versus the duties of parenting.

Geffen and editor Rob Hall don't help, failing to convey any sense of passing time between scenes that span many months. On the bright side, Simon Niblett's cinematography is more appealing on small screens: On DVD with the sound turned off, the film would make fine eye candy for kids listening to their favorite music for the zillionth time.

The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

War Story
Film Review: War Story

Infuriatingly slow, enervating and basically empty contemplation of war's impact, and a waste of the formidable talent of a gallant Catherine Keener. More »

Happy Christmas
Film Review: Happy Christmas

Joe Swanberg's latest feature is a collection of strong individual scenes and performances that never quite finds its statement of purpose. More »

Very Good Girls
Film Review: Very Good Girls

More of a meandering, misguided path than a road to hell, Naomi Foner’s directing debut, starring Dakota Fanning and Elizabeth Olsen as 18-year-old BFFs, is similarly filled with good intentions. More »

The Kill Team
Film Review: The Kill Team

Marine Adam Winfield goes on trial in a case in which U.S. soldiers murdered innocent Afghanis. Strong subject marred by poor narrative choices. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Get On Up
Film Review: Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman is sensational in this multi-faceted portrait of troubled, pioneering soul-music giant James Brown. More »

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here